Phi Beta Cons

Paglia and Fukuyama on Cho, Masculinity and Sex

The characteristics and behavior of the V. Tech shooter have given rise to a debate about the crisis of young males in feminized America, as The Sunday Times reports. Of particular interest are the comments of Camille Paglia, professor of humanities at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and author of Sexual Personae, who believes Cho is emblematic of the crisis. She observes:

“Women have difficulty understanding the mix of male sexual aggression with egotism and the ecstasy of self-immolation…

America’s residential campuses as vast “islands of green and slack conformity where a strange benevolent and tyrannical paternalism has taken over. It’s like a resort atmosphere.”

Paglia believes the [high] school Cho attended would have been no better equipped to deal with frustrated young males. “There is nothing happening educationally in these boring prisons that are fondly called suburban high schools. They are saturated with a false humanitarianism, which is especially damaging for boys.

“Young men have enormous energy. There was a time when they could run away, hop on a freighter, go to a factory and earn money, do something with their hands. Now there is this snobbery of the upper-middle-class professional. Everyone has to be a lawyer or paper pusher.”

Cho is a classic example of “someone who felt he was a loser in the cruel social rat race,” Paglia says. The pervasive hook-up culture at college, where girls are prepared to sleep with boys they barely know or fancy, can be a source of seething resentment and alienation for those who are left out.

“Young women now seem to want to behave like men and have sex without commitment. The signals they are giving are very confusing, and rage and humiliation build up in boys who are spurned again and again”…

The sex, Paglia argues, “is everywhere but it is not erotic”…“It’s not even titillating. It’s banal and debasing.”

Political scientist Francis Fukuyama also weighs in on this discussion. He thinks the common denominator between the terrorist suicide bomber and the suicidal mass murderer is their sexual frustration and gender. “It really is young men between 15 and 30 who are responsible [for] the vast majority of crimes, although it is politically incorrect to say this too loudly,” he comments.
Fukuyama contends that “the maleness is important” and that jihadist suicide bombers and Cho “fall into the same demographic of young males, a lot of whom are unemployed, without a clear place in the social hierarchy. These guys have the most to gain and the least to lose by martyrdom.” And often, he adds, they are upset about girls “whose attention they can’t get.”
Likely no changes in the way American approaches maleness or in the process of cultural feminization would have stopped Cho from carrying out his bloody rampage. Nonetheless, this particular discussion relating to gender and sex could shed light on such atrocious crimes. Any light on the matter is welcome.

Candace de Russy is a nationally recognized expert on education and cultural issues.

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